Date of publication

10 August 2015

Paperback ISBN-13

978 1 85341 152 6




A5 (210 x 148 mm)


250 grammes


£9.99 Paperback only

The Spirit of Auvergne
Catherine Pinchetti


Auvergne conjures up many images. Its immense and strange landscapes, shaped by the largest concentration of volcanoes in mainland Europe, are an outdoor paradise. It is France’s ‘water capital’, for its mineral drinking water and thermal springs have been known for over 2000 years. Its heartland of the old Massif Central is ancient Celtic territory, whose hero, the warrior Vercingétorix, led the Gallic revolt against the colonizing Romans, and is a French national legend. Here there is a mythical ‘deep France’, which injects a fantasized past into its picture-book medieval towns, villages and castles, venerable crafts and the earthy flavours of its cheeses, meats or Puy lentils.

This harsh and austere land suffered isolation and massive emigration to Paris at the turn of the twentieth century, but nevertheless retained its strong identity. Among its native citizens, it counts three French Presidents – Doumer, Pompidou and Giscard d’Estaing - the Marquis de La Fayette of American fame, and the philosopher/mathematician Blaise Pascal; you can add to them exceptional breeds of cattle and the Michelin rubber and mapping empire! Today, having unlocked and capitalized on its traditional values, Auvergne welcomes newcomers with a promise of a greener, more fulfilling life.

This book has a strong educational slant to it since it was inspired by the curiosity of the Author’s former students of French, which resulted in providing many different insights into the character of Auvergne. It also lets real-life Auvergnats, from the past or present, speak about their land through a selection of original extracts offered with their English translation.


Of volcanoes and wide-open spaces: How the Auvergne crater lakes came to be, Rent a donkey! Attitudes towards the region, Parisian Auvergnats - the value of work and solidarity, Die-hard prejudices against Auvergnats, Songs of Auvergne, Auvèrnha, an Occitan land. L’Auvergne, land of cows: The great Auvergne cheese tray, An old buronnier’s memories. Modern Auvergne: Town and country in Clermont-Ferrand - thumbs up or down? Ready for a change of life? A proud and fearless land: Germaine Tillion, La Fayette - symbol of Franco-American friendship. L’Allier: Historic healing waters in Bourbon-L’Archambault, What is a ‘lapalissade’? Meat production. Le Puy-de-Dôme: Clermont-Ferrand, Bibendum - the most popular fat ‘man’, The all-Auvergnat haka of ASM Clermont-Auvergne, Geographical features, Volvic mineral water — no worry, Ambert past and present, Fourme d’Ambert cheese, Thiers - the cutlery capital. Le Cantal: Geographical features, Aurillac, A fine umbrella tradition – Piganiol, The saints of Cantal, Cantal, a fisherman’s paradise. La Haute-Loire: Geographical and historic features, Le Puy-en-Velay, Via podiensis - the routes to Santiago de Compostela, ‘Terre des Justes’- Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, La Fête du Roi de l’Oiseau in Le Puy-en-Velay. Voices of Auvergne: Blaise Pascal - Pensées (extract); Jules Vallès - L’Enfant (extract); Antoine Sylvère - Toinou, le cri d’un enfant Auvergnat (extract); Jules Romains - Knock ou le Triomphe de la Médecine (extract); Jean Anglade - Un cœur étranger (extracts). Bibliographic references; Not to be missed: Villes & pays d’Art & d’Histoire, beaux villages, nature parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Regional websites; Regional newspapers; Universities; Regional acknowledgements; Appendices: The Cathar Occitan-speaking territory, The regional languages of France; Index; Author’s biography.


Catherine Pinchetti

Catherine Pinchetti

Parisian-born Catherine Pinchetti is a graduate of the École Nationale des Chartes, a French Grande École for historians and heritage curators. She has taught French as a foreign language widely: in the United States (Vermont, New York State and Washington DC), France (Fontainebleau) and the United Kingdom (Cambridge). She taught in prep schools, universities, Alliances Françaises and Chambers of Commerce. She also contributed numerous lead articles in Bien-dire, a French magazine for learners of French, and Go! English, its counterpart for learners of English. Catherine was actively involved in fostering cross-Channel language and cultural exchanges, notably through twinning associations and summer-job placements for students. She now divides her time between Cambridge and Fontainebleau, and has embarked on a new career as a writer.


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